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Sgt. Carlos J. Hernandez, the platoon sergeant of 2nd Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, watches as members of the Singaporean Armed Forces maneuver through the obstacle course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

'War Dogs' get down and dirty with Singaporean allies

4 Feb 2009 | Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

Marines and sailors from Companies G and F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, showed off their combat fitness skills to members of the Singaporean Armed Forces at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4.

The demonstration was part of Exercise Valiant Mark, an annual exchange exercise conducted between the Marine Corps and the SAF, which included Marines and sailors from Company C, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

As part of the training, the warfighters from 2/7 and the SAF participated in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, grappling bouts and ran through an obstacle course, all in the name of friendly competition and team building.

“I think it was a very-well rounded practical application,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos J. Hernandez, the 2nd platoon sergeant of Company G. “Not just of MCMAP, but of combat fitness in general.”

In addition to combat fitness, the demonstration allowed members of both services to learn valuable foreign customs and courtesies, and eliminate any sense of uneasiness they may have had prior to dealing with foreign nationals, which may have been harbored by the service members of both forces, he said.

Because of the gains that can be made by all participating nations, there definitely has to be more bilateral training with foreign nationals both in the United States and abroad said the Los Angeles native.

“Building relations with foreign nations is a force multiplier,” said Hernandez.

After the activities concluded, Tan Guowen, a rifleman with the SAF, said he was very impressed with MCMAP.

“It was very interesting,” said Guowen. “It’s something new to us.”

Guowen said the SAF have their own martial arts program but it is more focused on defensive tactics, while MCMAP incorporates defensive and offensive strategies, which is something he would like to see more of in the SAF program.

Guowen was also impressed with the Corps’ obstacle course, because while it was shorter than the SAF course, it tested agility as well as muscle, cardiovascular and core strength, all of which are essential in combat.

He also said, like Hernandez, he would like to see more training exercises between the two nations in an effort to build rapport between the two forces.

The feeling of importance of the bilateral training was also shared by other Marines participating in the day’s events.

“It was a good experience to work with the Singaporeans,” said Lance Cpl. Noel Huerta, a mortarman with Weapons Platoon, Company F.

In addition to providing the warriors of 2/7 with a break from the desert atmosphere, the training built a solid friendship between everyone involved and therefore should be continued, said the North Las Vegas, Nev., native.

Marines and the SAF are slated to renew their friendship in mid-2009 when a second version of Valiant Mark is conducted in Singapore.

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